The jet lag struggle is real. Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that occurs when you cross two or more time zones. When we travel quickly and go from one time zone to another in a short time frame, the rhythm of our biological clock is thrown off. Jet lag can be overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating, especially when all you want to do is get out and explore new cities and sights. Instead of sitting around in a hazy state of mind, use these tips to prevent and get over jet lag during your travels. This is the time to seize your youth and explore new cultures, landmarks, languages, and to meet new people. You’ve come this far and traveled great distances; you want to make the most of your time traveling. Don’t let your valuable time be monopolized by jet lag.
Make Small Adjustments
Figure out what time it is in the country you will be traveling to. A week before you leave for your trip, start slowly adjusting to that time zone. Go to sleep earlier or wake up earlier and schedule your meals for later or earlier in the evening. Small adjustments like this will get your body used to doing things a bit differently, so when you are all of a sudden functioning to a new clock you won’t experience as much shock. When you advance or delay your body clock ahead of time, studies show that you will adjust faster and can reduce the effect of jet lag.
This is just good advice for every day of your life. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. While you can’t bring liquids through security, as soon as you make it to the other side, purchase a big bottle of water or fill your water bottle up. Planes can be very dehydrating, and you don’t want to have to wait for the drink cart to roll past to get your fill of H20.
Use Plane Time Wisely
If you are traveling somewhere far away, use this long plane ride to catch up with the time zone you are flying into. As soon as you sit down in your seat, set your watch. If where you’re going is midnight, sleep on the plane so when you arrive in the morning you feel fresh and awake. Use a sleep mask and earplugs if the light and noise bothers you.
If you need to sleep on the plane, avoid caffeine and sugar as best you can. If it’s the daytime, even if you are tired, try your best to stay awake and keep yourself busy. Get up and walk up and down the aisles and stretch. You can sleep when you arrive, since it will then be nighttime.
During the Trip
Make Wise Food Choices
During the first couple of days of your trip, make wise food choices. Your body will already be trying to catch up with a different time zone and won’t be metabolizing as efficiently, so go easy on spicy foods and large meals in the evening.
Prepare Your Room
Before you drift off to sleep, prepare your hotel, hostel, guest room in a way that will be conducive to a great night’s rest. Shut down your electronics and television an hour before bedtime, close the curtains or blinds, dim the lights, turn the temperature down if you can, wash up and get ready for sleep, and get cozy in bed with a book, magazine, or your gratitude journal.
When you are exhausted and feeling jet lagged on a trip, it is unbelievably tempting to just sleep until you feel awake and ready to explore. However, this temptation might get the best of you, one hour turns into five, and then all of a sudden your day of exploring is gone. If you purposely schedule activities at times you want to try to stay awake, you can mentally adjust faster than if you know you have the entire day free. Scheduled activities are a great way to keep you going because you are held accountable for paying and showing up.
Try to exercise as much as you can when you travel. By keeping your body active, you’ll feel much more alert and ready for the day. Exercise first thing in the morning or when you feel sluggishness coming on midday. It can be as simple as walking the block a few extra times, slipping a jump rope into your suitcase, or doing some push-ups and crunches on the floor. Anything to get your heart rate up will be sufficient.
Enjoy a Breakfast of Champions
Start your day with a breakfast of champions. Water, protein, and fruit are great breakfast staples. Don’t forget to try some of the local food if you’re abroad. Just because you’re not hungry now (maybe back home it’s the middle of the night), try to get something in your system so you can start the day on an energetic note. Live by the rules of the time zone you are in.
How do you prevent and overcome jet lag?